We need to raise $600,000 by June 30 to provide support for people in crisis. Your tax deductible donation is crucial for helping people to move from crisis to stability.
Naomi sat at the kitchen table staring at the eviction notice, years of grief and struggle bearing down on her.
She had worked so hard to hold things together, but this news was too much to take.
She had three young children to look after, mounting debt, and she was exhausted. How was she going to cope?
There was a time when she had hope for the future. But then her husband’s mother and two brothers died over a period of 12 months, and he had turned to drinking to cope with his grief.
Soon the drinking became a major health problem, and Naomi became a carer for her husband along with her children. She was the rock that her family relied on.
For more than two years Naomi juggled caring for her husband and her children, making it impossible for her to do any paid work to cover their debts or build for the future.
“My baby was only a few months old, and I also had to keep looking after my husband. Sometimes I would even need to feed my husband food. He couldn’t feed himself,” she said.
The years of drinking had taken their toll. In 2013, Naomi’s husband died.
Alone and vulnerable
Suddenly, Naomi was alone with three young children under 8 – including a baby – and no family nearby to support her.
It was frightening. She was very vulnerable.
Although the family was already in debt from trying to survive, Naomi had to take out loans to pay for the funeral expenses and keep her car on the road so she could get her children to school.
For 12 months Naomi focused on her children and working through her grief. But the debts kept growing. She knew she had to take control of the situation.
“I had three children. I was a mother, so I had a full responsibility. So I took up what I needed to do,” she said.
Struggling to get by
For the next three years Naomi battled to stabilise her family’s situation with numerous attempts at study and part-time work.
It was a constant, draining cycle of two steps forward, and three steps back.
The ever-looming debt became increasingly unmanageable, made even harder by setback after setback. Naomi was never able to catch up with the increasing demands and costs of everyday living, such as rental payments, bills and grocery shopping, and their car and school expenses.
“Everything kept coming up, all at the same time. It was just too much, and I didn’t know what I was going to do,” Naomi said.
Just before Mother’s Day last year, the letter came advising that the landlord was going to sell the house.
After all she had done to keep her family afloat, it was devastating news.
“They gave me 60 days’ notice to vacate. I filled in applications for more than 30 houses, and [I was offered] nothing,” said Naomi.
Naomi knew she needed to find support quickly and no longer battle this plight on her own.
A community in crisis
Increasing numbers of families in our community are doing it tough like Naomi. They do all that they can to provide for their families. But the cost of living is going up.
Many people simply can’t afford to buy food or pay their energy bills.
In the past 12 months, 22% of children in Australia have experienced food insecurity and a staggering 38% of people said they cannot afford food because they don’t have enough money after paying rent and bills. They need someone to turn to in their time of crisis.
Someone to turn to
Naomi was desperate until a friend suggested she contact Uniting homelessness services.
Our team provided Naomi’s family with immediate emergency accommodation, and it wasn’t long before they had had moved into one of Uniting’s medium-term crisis accommodation homes.
“I was in a motel for two weeks, and then they told me they found a house for us to stay in,” said Naomi.” They told us on a Monday, and that afternoon we were moving.”
A common story
Naomi’s story is common for growing numbers of people in our community.
Recent studies show that homelessness has increased by 14%, and demand for homelessness services has increased by 22%.
In the past three years requests for support from our key crisis and homelessness services have risen by 10% each year.
From crisis to stability
It was such a relief for Naomi. The immediate crisis was over. But there was still so much left to do …
Naomi soon discovered that crisis accommodation is just the beginning of the services that Uniting provides to support people to get back on their feet and look to the future.
Our family case workers walk alongside people who are in crisis.
It was this close support, along with the provisions of food parcels, funding assistance for school uniforms and fees, and debt management support that has encouraged Naomi to see this as a chance to stabilise her family for the long term.
“Before, I just couldn’t work out the right budget. Every year [the debt] would just keep going up again. But now, my caseworker and I just do the budget together every fortnight,” said Naomi. “In this house, I just feel the blessings for my family. It is a happy house.”
Hope for the future
Now, Naomi is studying a massage course and hopes to secure a job when it is completed in July.
“The massage course will be finished soon and I want to work part-time because my children are getting older now.”
“I’m just very thankful that Uniting looks after people in crisis and the homeless. It wasn’t only the house they gave us to stay in, it was the food and other things. It is like a big family who love us. I’m just very thankful.
“A time that was so hard has now brought me hope for the future,” Naomi said. “A better future for me and my children.”
“I know that I could not have been supported this much without the generosity of others.”
Support people like Naomi
You can bring hope for the future to people like Naomi this winter. Will you make a donation of $XX and support people to go from crisis to stability?
Your donation to our Winter Appeal will help change lives across our Victoria and Tasmania.
Thank you for being there for people in crisis when they need it most.